Much Ado About Nothing illustrates a kind of deliberately puzzling title that seems to have been popular in the late 1590s (ex "As You Like It"). Indeed, the play is about nothing; it follows the relationships of Claudio and Hero (which is constantly hampered by plots to disrupt it), and in the end, the play culminates in the two other main characters falling in love (Beatrice and Bena*censored*), which, because it was an event that was quite predictable, proves to be "much ado about nothing". The pronunciation of the word "nothing" would, in the late 16th Century, have been "noting," and so the title also apparently suggests a pun on the word, "noting," and on the use of the word "note" as an expression of music. In Act two, scene two ,Balthasar is encouraged to sing, but declines, saying, "note this before my notes; there’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting." (53-54) However, Don Pedro retorts, "Note notes, forsooth, and nothing," playing on Balthasar’s words, and also demanding that he pay attention to his music and nothing else. In addition, much of the play is dedicated to people "noting" (or observing) the actions of others (such as the trick played on Beatrice and Bene*censored* by Leonato, Hero and Claudio); they often observe and overhear one another, and consequently make a great deal out of very little. Author The political and cultural events of the 15 century had a large influence on Shakespeare’s work. In Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon, Don John, his brother, Borachio his servant, Bene*censored*, a young lord, and Claudio his best friend are all returning from war, and have been invited to stay with Leonato for a month. Shakespeare's antagonist Don John, bears much resemblance to Don John of Austria, the illegitimate son of Charles V, half-brother to the King of Aragon who defeated the Turks at Lepanto and returned to Messina after his victory in October of 1571. Don John of Austria had many of the qualities that Shakespeare's Don John did, he was not on good terms with his brother, and although he tried with much effort to gain status, he was frequently humiliated in attempts to bring himself fame. Shakespeare was known to draw parallels between his characters and actual historical figures, in an attempt to produce a sort abstract history of the times (ex...
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... if he does see Hero in another man’s arms, that he will publicly shame her at their wedding tomorrow. Later that evening, Claudio witnesses the encounter between "Hero" (who is really Margret and Borachio. The day after, Claudio publicly accuses Hero in adultery and refuses to marry her. Hero is shocked so much that she faints during that scene. So, "the love from the first sight", between Claudio and Hero has been destroyed so easily; only by a scene set up by Don John. Only selfishness is seen in this speech. Claudio publicly accuses Hero in cheating on him without trying to talk to her first. And even if she did cheat on him, why would he want to hurt her so much? This aspect presents the fact that he probably loves himself, but not Hero. It’s easy then, to doubt whether the love was ever real between the two characters characters. Why did it take so little effort to influence them?
Sources Buckler, John; Hill, Bennet D.; McKay, John P.; A History of Western Society; pgs 485-562; Houghton Miffin Company; 1999 Hieatt, A. Kent; William Shakespeare; Encarta 98; 1998 Shakespeare, William; Much Ado About Nothing; Bantam Books; New York, New York; 1993
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